Human Rights Watch has urged the Afghan government and US military to investigate alleged summary executions committed by special forces against civilians in Kandahar province. The executions reportedly took place during military operations spanning from Jan. 31 to Feb. 1. In one instance, during a coordinated attack by a Special Forces Unit of the National Directorate of Security, the NDS troops reportedly killed at least 20 civilians and arbitrarily detained at least 38 men. Among those summarily slain were civilians fleeing US air-strikes. (Photo: Afghan forces in Kandahar, via Wikimedia Commons)
Recent US raids in Afghanistan have targeted presumed forces of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, the supposed Uighur militant network active in China's far-western Xinjiang region. News of the air-strikes in Badakhshan province comes amid reports that China is preparing to establish a military base in the same region of Afghanistan. Badakhshan forms a long panhandle between Tajikistan to the north and Pakistan to the south to reach a border with Chinese territory. (Photo: US troops on patrol in Zabul province; US Army via Flickr)
With Afghanistan's opium output now breaking all previous records, hashish continues to remain an important sideline for the country's warring factions—and to hear the US tell it, it's the ultra-puritanical Taliban that are responsible for it. Recent NATO raids have claimed massive hash hauls from the hideouts of the Taliban's elite "Red Units." Operation Resolute Support commanders now say the Taliban have become a "narco-insurgency." (Photo: NATO)
A coordinated attack on a compound of the Afghan army in capital Kabul left at least 11 soldiers dead. Two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the barracks of the army's 111th division in Qargha district before a small team of gunmen moved in. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news agency. This was the third large attack in Kabul since Taliban insurgents launched an assault on Intercontinental Hotel that left over 20 dead. The second attack came when presumed Taliban militants denoted an ambulance packed with explosives near an Interior Ministry compound, killing over 100. Another six people were killed in an assault claimed by ISIS on the office of aid group Save the Children in the eastern city of Jalalabad. (Photo: Khaama Press)
The latest stats from the UN's annual Afghanistan Opium Survey are in, and the news is grim. Opium production in the war-torn country jumped nearly 87% in 2017, to record levels—an estimated 9,000 metric tons. Areas under poppy cultivation rose by 63%, reaching a record 328,000 hectares and boosting the number of Afghanistan's 34 provinces now cultivating opium from 21 to 24. Since overthrowing the Taliban in 2001, the US has spent nearly $7 billion to combat opium—to spectacularly counter-productive results. (Photo: VOA)
International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda made a formal request to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by US the military in Afghanistan. The investigation would also examine crimes at secret CIA detention facilities in Poland, Romania and Lithuania. The request cites articles of the Rome Statute concerning murder, torture and unlawful imprisonment. It marks the first time ICC prosecutors have targeted the United States.
The Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan warned that continued illegal extraction of the country's mineral wealth is leading to serious security and political consequences. Acting ASA director Suraya Popal stated: "Terrorists and strongmen with illegal extractions and revenues from mines weaken the rule of law and fund the insurgency. Thus, extraction of the country's minerals should be done in line with the law and international standards before it's too late."
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan released a special report detailing human rights violations committed during attacks on Mirza Olang village, in northern Sari Pul province, possibly constituting war crimes. During the three-day assault, Taliban and Islamic State fighters reportedly killed at least 36 people in the predominantly Shi'ite village.
Trump was expected to announce a troop surge for Afghanistan n his address from Fort Myer in Arlington, Va. Gen. John Nicholson, the top US military commander in Afghanistan, had been requesting another 4,000 troops, on top of the current 8,500. Instead, Trump was heavy on get-tough rhetoric and light on actual specifics. But as he spoke, a US drone struck presumed ISIS targets in Nangarhar province—the latest in a growing trend toward automated warfare in Afghanistan.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan released a report condemning an increase in civilian deaths in Afghanistan during the first half of 2017. “Anti-government forces” are held responsible for 67% of civilian casualties, compared to 18% attributed to “pro-government forces,” and the remainder to cross-fire and other actors. The report notes that an increase in aerial operations by pro-government forces led to a jump in women and child casualties as well.
The "Kabul Process" peace talks opened in Afghanistan's capital—but with no representatives from the Taliban or other insurgent groups, and practically no presence of Afghan women.
The Haqqani Network is believed to be behind the massive car-bomb explosion in Kabul's diplomatic district, which has raised new calls for thousands more US troops to be deployed.